MPs warn ‘nothing has changed' since Windrush as they refer Home Office to equalities watchdog

Written by Matt Foster on 1 May 2019 in News
News

MPs call for investigation into "hostile environment" legislation that led to Windrush crisis

A cross-party group of MPs has referred the Home Office to the UK's equalities watchdog as they warned that "nothing has changed" since the Windrush scandal erupted last year.

In a letter coordinated by Labour MP David Lammy, the group urges the Equality and Human Rights Commission to launch a probe into whether the department's "deeply discriminatory" immigration policies amount to institutional racism.

The move comes more than a year after the Windrush scandal, which saw longstanding British residents from Commonwealth countries lose access to public services and face deportation, first hit the headlines.


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Lammy, chairman of the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Race, told The Guardian: "The gross mishandling and abuse of the Windrush generation by the Home Office raises serious questions over whether British citizens were discriminated against on the basis of their race and ethnicity, in breach of equalities legislation.

“More than a year after I first raised this in parliament, nothing has changed. Justice must mean not only due compensation and reparation, but changes to the institution and immigration laws that created this crisis.

"This is why we are calling on the EHRC to investigate the Home Office and, in particular, the hostile environment legislation, which appears to have led to discriminatory treatment against ethnic minority British citizens.”

The letter, signed by 87 MPs, accuses the Home Office of unlawful discrimination against Windrush victims.

And it says that those who travelled to the UK from the Caribbean in the wake of the Second World War were targeted as a "direct result" of Home Office policy.

Lammy said: "Clearly, the Windrush scandal represents one of the gravest breaches of equality law and the rights of British citizens in recent memory."

'Righting the wrongs'

Home secretary Sajid Javid this year launched a wide-ranging compensation scheme for those wrongly caught up in its immigration crackdown, promising that up to £200m would be set aside for payouts.

"Nothing we say or do will ever wipe away the hurt, the trauma, the loss that should never have been suffered by the men and women of the Windrush generation, but together we can begin to right the wrongs of Windrush," he said at the time.

A Home Office spokesperson said: "The home secretary and the immigration minister are committed to righting the wrongs experienced by the Windrush generation and the recently launched compensation scheme is a crucial step in delivering on that commitment.

"The Windrush generation have given so much to this country and we will ensure nothing like this ever happens again, that is why the home secretary commissioned a lessons learned review with independent oversight by Wendy Williams."

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Matt Foster
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Matt Foster is news editor for PoliticsHome, where a version of this story first appeared

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